Charges laid against at­tack sus­pect in­clude at­tempted mur­der

Fort McMurray Today - - ALBERTA NEWS - JOHN COTTER

ED­MON­TON — Po­lice have crim­i­nally charged a So­mali refugee who at­tacked an of­fi­cer and ran down pedes­tri­ans with a truck — but are hold­ing off on ter­ror­ism charges for now.

RCMP Supt. Stacey Tal­bot, with Al­berta’s In­te­grated Na­tional Se­cu­rity En­force­ment Team, said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Ab­du­lahi Hasan Sharif is still “in its in­fancy.”

“The com­plex­i­ties of a ter­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tion are vast,” Tal­bot said Mon­day. “We con­tinue to col­lect and gather in­for­ma­tion.

“As the in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­folds and fur­ther in­for­ma­tion is gar­nered and if ad­di­tional charges are sup­ported, they will be pur­sued at that time.”

Sharif, 30, is set to make his first ap­pear­ance Tues­day in pro­vin­cial court on 11 charges, in­clud­ing five counts of at­tempted mur­der.

He has also been charged with dan­ger­ous driv­ing, four counts of crim­i­nal flight caus­ing bod­ily harm and pos­ses­sion of a weapon for a dan­ger­ous pur­pose.

Po­lice raised the pos­si­bil­ity of ter­ror­ism charges on Sun­day when re­veal­ing that Sharif had been in­ves­ti­gated two years ear­lier for es­pous­ing ex­trem­ist views and was found to have an Is­lamic State flag in his car.

Ed­mon­ton po­lice have said they be­lieve the sus­pect acted alone and with­out con­spir­a­tors dur­ing the se­ries of at­tacks, which be­gan around 8:15 on Satur­day night.

At that time, Ed­mon­ton po­lice Const. Mike Ch­ernyk was han­dling crowd con­trol at a Cana­dian Foot­ball League game out­side Com­mon­wealth Sta­dium, just north­east of down­town. He was hit by a speed­ing white Chevy Mal­ibu that rammed through a bar­rier and sent him fly­ing five me­tres through the air.

The driver got out, pulled out a large knife and be­gan stab­bing Ch­ernyk, a 10-year vet­eran, as he was ly­ing on the ground. Ch­ernyk fought back and the sus­pect fled on foot.

Ch­ernyk was cut on his face and had abra­sions on his arms but is ex­pected to make a full re­cov­ery.

Po­lice knew the name of the Mal­ibu’s reg­is­tered owner, as well as the sus­pect’s phys­i­cal de­scrip­tion, and set up road­blocks. Of­fi­cers stopped the sus­pect, now driv­ing a U-Haul truck, hours later a check­point near the sta­dium.

With po­lice in high-speed pur­suit, the sus­pect took off to­ward the down­town, mow­ing down four pedes­tri­ans along the way. The chase con­tin­ued un­til po­lice forced the truck to crash on its side. They then used a stun gun on the driver and took him into cus­tody.

Ed­mon­ton po­lice Insp. Car­los Car­doso was asked by re­porters why au­thor­i­ties did not broad­cast the name and de­tails of the sus­pect to the gen­eral pub­lic after Ch­ernyk was at­tacked, given the in­ci­dent had the ear­marks of a ter­ror­ist at­tack and hap­pened near a ma­jor sport­ing event.

“We go on the in­for­ma­tion we have at the time,” said Car­doso. “At that time we had the area flooded. We had points set up and we knew very lit­tle about this in­di­vid­ual.

“The events that tran­spired shortly there­after hap­pened that quickly so the op­por­tu­nity to ac­tu­ally pro­vide that duty to warn just wasn’t there at that time.”

JA­SON FRANSON/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Ed­mon­ton po­lice Insp. Car­los Car­doso speaks about the charges laid in the case against Ab­du­lahi Hasan Sharif on Mon­day who has been charged in an at­tack which saw an Ed­mon­ton of­fi­cer stabbed and four peo­ple in­jured when they were hit by a rental truck flee­ing po­lice on Satur­day night.

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